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Parapsychology is the study of apparent new means of communication, or interaction, between organisms and their environment beyond those presently understood by the scientific community. Parapsychology is an important facet of the ghost hunting world. It is a professional study of ghosts that has existed for over 120 years and is the forefather for the amateur hunter/investigator movement that has gained momentum since the early 1990's. For our purposes parapsychology is broken down into a couple of groups. * ESP Extrasensory Perception (receptive psychic) Telepathy -"mind to mind" communication. This is not reading someone's mind, but the transferring of information or emotions. Clairvoyance -Receiving information from objects or events without the use of normal senses or without putting clues together. This subgroup also contains clairaudience which is sound information, and clairsentience which is physical sensations. Psychometry - The ability to "read" the history of an object or location. This could be one possible explanation for hauntings. Precognition - Receiving information about objects or events that occur in the future. This group also contains retrocognition which deals with the past and is an alternate explanation to Psychometry (and hauntings). In other words the viewer is not using the history of an object or location from its electromagnetic field, rather the information may be using the object or location as a "focal point" to the past. PK - Psychokinesis (expressive psychic) The ability of the mind to influence objects without use of known physical means. Telekinesis - The ability to move objects from a distance (now lumped into PK). Teleportation -Movement of an object (placement) without visually having traveled at all. Psychic healing - The means of healing oneself (or another) with the mind. Another popular event is psychic surgery. Poltergeist -This is linked to a living person or persons, and to a stress
related situation. Included are movement of objects and sounds. Occur when particular person "agent" is around. This is a quick (and unfortunately crude) example of what Parapsychology has to offer. I suggest that every ghost hunter familiarizes themself with these principles. * information from "ESP, Hauntings and Poltergeists: A Parapsychologist's Handbook" by Loyd Auerbach. New York: Warner Books 1986. It may be old, but it is not outdated.
The Big Three
When we talk about ghosts we are concerned with "the big three"; apparitions, hauntings and poltergeists. These are the three main categories of what we label as "ghosts". The terminology is sometimes confusing as many use these terms interchangeably. Some only use apparition to describe a visual representation of a ghost while using a prefix attached to haunting to desribe how they act (intelligent haunting, residual haunting). We use these terms as parapsychologists have defined them.
Apparitions- These are what we usually define as ghosts. These are usually
visual (though sometimes only heard or smelled) clues of a ghost. Apparitions appear in human form and appear as they want to be seen (a self image). Sometimes the same ghost may appear as an adult or appear as they were as a child. Apparitions are different from the other three since they display intelligence to the world around them, meaning they interact with the living. They may communicate verbally or visually, by letting you see them to some extent or other nonverbal communication (knocking, leaving footprints, etc.). They may move objects (usually your personal objects) or leave behind scents. These last two examples may appear in the other two forms of ghosts, which is why it is sometimes tricky to find out what is going on. The most important aspect here is intelligence and communication. They are letting you know they are there and acknowledging your appearance. Apparitions may last a few days to a few weeks or months and may disappear completely or possibly make random appearances. Generally they move on within a few months or if asked to by the ones that they are communicating with. Ghosts may appear to the person after residing or working for a period of time until it either gets used to you or by other means, they typically also emerge from renovations in their place of occupancy (renovation effect). There is another type of apparition that is related to the living or the recently departed. These are called crisis apparitions, they are usually thought of as seeing a person just before they die, but may happen at any time (not tied to death, possibly an OBE) before or even hours after death. It is usually the person "saying goodbye" reaching out to family or close friends as they go through the death process and is typically a one-time event.
Hauntings- These are events that are recording in time, either in a place or
an object. A haunting does not show any "intelligence" or communication. A visual apparition may occur with hauntings, but instead of showing any type of communication they will just go about their business without noticing anything around them. Behavior similar to apparitions may also occur; smells, sounds, voices, or objects moving. In the case of hauntings there never seems to be any motive the events or communication to the living. Hauntings may last years or decades, they may appear regularly or whenever the conditions are right for them to appear. There are many reasons and theories for hauntings to occur. Most popularly is the sudden or extreme death (the person is then cursed to roam the halls of where they died), this is not always the cause and in my experience is the least likely of explanations.
Poltergeist- The word poltergeist usually brings with it the fear of angry
demons or "angry ghosts". Poltergeists have been traced to psychokinetic activity of living under stress, referred to as RSPK, recurrent spontaneous psychokinetic activity by parapsychologists. It is the unconscious release of stress into the living environment of someone who can not release the stress any other way. At times the release is due to the relief of stress (arguing, yelling, difficult situations). The person causing these things is usually not aware they are causing these things to happen. Events surrounding poltergeists include; movement of objects, disappearing and reappearing of objects, electrical disturbences, water coming from no apparent source, objects raining down from the ceiling or from outside (rocks from no apparent source), apparitions, smells (usually unpleasant), and small spontaneous fires. Poltergeist activity is usually short in duration, as little as a few days or few weeks. They are usually thought of coming from children going through puberty, but can happen to anyone at any age. While these definitions may seem simple and relatively separate, some cases are difficult to decipher since so many of the events seem to overlap with one or more of these possibile categories. Sometimes the root cause may spur another one of these events to happen (haunting creates stress in the house causing poltergeist activity). Sorting out what is happening is not always simple and clear-cut.
There are three major forms of "ghosts" that appear on film.
They are orbs, vortexes and mists. These anomalies by themselves do not indicate a presence by a ghost, for them to have any validity at all as far as evidence they must be accompanied by an event with witnesss. This list is included here since these anomalies are typically viewed as aspects of ghosts, though an overwhelming majority of these photographs are perfectly explainable.
Orbs - These are balls of light or crystal-like objects that appear in
photographs. They may appear by themselves or in groups and may appear to show movement in film and video. These are believed to be the ongoing "spirit" or life force of the dead. They are rarely visible to the naked eye, but are the most frequently photographed anomaly. They are also sighted using night vision goggles or infra red viewing equipment (sometimes it is just a byproduct of the light inducing power similar to pixelization of lower megapixel digital cameras). A vast majority of photos with these are merely reflections of dust, humidity and other airborne debris (including bugs). There is also evidence that orbs leave vaportrails as they move and have been captured on video moving through solid objects. Some feel that most Orbs also contain a "face" which represents the person that the Orb represents, I feel this just stems from the belief system surrounding Orbs...no one has proven what they are at this point. Orbs also seem to have an extra-terrestrial connection as Orbs have been seen over crop circle formations and UFO landing sites.
Vortexes - (also known as vortices, or portals) appear (in photos) like a
funnel hanging in mid air. There have been many varieties documented. These are sometimes mistaken for a reflcetion of the camera strap (flash or not). They may have a shadow or sometimes none. These are believed to be either portals to the "other side" where 'ghosts' go when they're done here (back and forth maybe?) or like a transport to a different place (time?). It has also been theorized that it could be a gathering of orbs. Like humans gather together in societies maybe orbs group together for some reason. I view the vortex as if it is a form of orb, it is meaningless as evidence unless accompanied by an event viewed by a witness (and votexes are never seen when the photo is taken, so take that for what it's worth). There are other types of vortexes that are not photographed, they are comprised of electromagnetic radiation and have been thought to be portals between dimensions or time, but are mainly a disturbance in the Earth's surface magnetic field. They are not considered to have anything to do with ghosts, but nature itself.
Mists - These are more like what we perceive ghosts to be. They are blankets
of light or a mist. At times they are just hanging in mid air other times they seem to take shape. There is thought by some that this could be ectoplasm, which is believed to basically be residue from ghost activity. Unfortunately, ectoplasm is a living creation from the age of Spiritualism for fraudulent seanses. In most cases it is just a mist, a blanket of moisture that travels in the air ( a reflection from flash or the sun causes the lens to "see" and copy this as a solid on film). Other things that create this effect are breath in cold air and cigarette smoke. Some mists could be considered apparitions if they take human shape, though many jump to this conclusion if they can mentally put together a face. It has not been proven that ghosts are directly related to orbs, mists, or vortices, but the three anomalies have been the basis for the latest movement in ghost hunting in the last couple of decades.
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